Alex Goldmark

Alex Goldmark appears in the following:

Cuomo: I'll Take Transit Money Other New Governors Are Giving Up

Friday, November 05, 2010


In one of his first actions as New York's governor-elect, Andrew Cuomo is looking to bring home more money for high-speed rail projects around the state.


NY Gov-Elect Wants HSR Money Other New Govs are Giving Up

Friday, November 05, 2010

In one of his first acts as Governor-Elect, Andrew Cuomo says wants high speed rail money other governors are giving up.  As a candidate, Cuomo's transportation plans were only given in outline, but if he follows through on aggressively pursuing federal funding for transportation projects, things could get interesting -- Transportation Nation

Here's the release:

Press Release from the office of Governor-elect of NY Andrew Cuomo.


Governors-Elect in Ohio and Wisconsin Have Promised to Cancel Major Federally Funded Rail Projects in their Home States

Action Would Free Up $1.26 Billion in Stimulus Funding for High-Speed Rail Projects

New York Governor-Elect Andrew Cuomo today sent a personal letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asking that if Governors-Elect in Ohio and Wisconsin move forward with campaign promises to cancel major federally funded high-speed rail projects in their states, he redirect the $1.26 billion in stimulus funding already dedicated to those projects to New York.

“High speed rail is critical to building the foundation for future economic growth, especially Upstate. If these Governors-Elect follow through on their promises to cancel these projects, a Cuomo Administration would move quickly to put the billions in rejected stimulus funding towards projects that would create thousands of good jobs for New Yorkers.

Below is a copy of the Governor-Elect’s letter to Secretary LaHood:

November 5, 2010

Hon. Ray LaHood


U.S. Department of Transportation

1200 New Jersey Ave., SE

Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary LaHood:

High speed rail could be transformative for New York—with the potential to revitalize Upstate New York’s economy with construction jobs now and permanent jobs created by the new high speed rail links to New York City, Toronto and Montreal in the future. That is why I made high speed rail a priority during my campaign, and that is why it will continue to be a top priority for me as Governor.

To date, New York has received only a small fraction of federal money for high speed rail, but we want to make it a success now, and my Administration will aggressively pursue all funding opportunities to make high speed rail a reality.  Recent reports have stated that incoming Administrations in other states, particularly Ohio and Wisconsin, are seeking to cancel their high speed rail projects and the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid associated with those projects.  Therefore, I would ask you to consider redirecting the federal funding to New York because the project is a top priority.

High speed rail could be the 21st Century Erie Canal for New York State and help rebuild Upstate New York’s economy. Now is the moment to build. Thank you for the consideration and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate and call.

Best wishes,

Andrew M. Cuomo


# # #

Here's the DOT response to our follow-up on this Cuomo's requst:

"We recognize that there is an incredible demand for high-speed rail dollars around the country. The Obama administration’s high-speed rail program will create jobs, spur economic development and provide people with cleaner, greener alternatives to driving and flying."

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Wisconsin Halts Construction of High Speed Rail Project after Anti-Rail Candidate Wins Office

Friday, November 05, 2010

Rendering of Milwaukee's proposed intermodal station.

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Contractors in Wisconsin received a one line email telling them to stop work on high-speed rail construction. This came after rail-opponent, Republican Scott Walker won the governorship on Tuesday. But it was sitting governor and rail-supporter Jim Doyle's administration that made the call to halt progress now.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation issued the orders saying the stoppage is "just for a few days," though  the Journal-Sentinel is reporting that some contractors have already initiated some layoffs as a result. Sadly, that may be the point. DOT Chief Frank Busalacchi said in a written statement this is "to assess the real-world consequences, including the immediate impacts to people and their livelihoods, if this project were to be stopped." Already, a locally-based but foreign-owned train maker Talgo Inc. has said it might not stay in the area if the project is scrapped.

Governor-elect Walker  has been an adamant opponent of the project even though construction would be 100 percent funded by federal dollars. The operating costs would fall on the State to pay. He doubts there is sufficient demand for the service and says Wisconsin just can't afford it.

The official DOT site for Wisconsin's Milwaukee to Madison HSR project.

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Average Fuel Spending Drops, but We Still Use a Lot of It

Thursday, November 04, 2010

(Washington, D.C. -- Todd Zwillich, Transportation Nation) Drivers across the country spent a lower percentage of their income on gasoline in 2009 than in 2008, according to an analysis out today from the Natural Resources Defense Council. That shouldn't be a surprise, considering the spike in oil prices in 2008.

But there are still several states where gas purchases eat up more than five percent of household income on average. And NRDC says that in two states--Mississippi and Montana--gasoline consumption accounted for more than six percent. In Montana the average household spent $2,066.58 on gas in 2009, the nation's highest dollar figure. Typical Mississippians spent $1,910.75 but led the nation in terms of income percentage spent on gasoline. Chalk up the difference to low mean incomes in Mississippi, which ranks among the poorest states in the nation.

Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Kentucky round out the list of states where gas consumption took up more than 5% of average household income in 2009. Meanwhile the higher-income states of the Northeast were at the bottom of the list. Drivers in New York spent a national low of $1,229.16 on gas, though Connecticut had the lowest household income share at just 2.56%.

You won't be surprised to read that NRDC, a leading environmental group takes these results as a clarion call for less dependence on fossil fuels. The group points out that only three states--California, Massachusetts, and Oregon--have their own low-carbon fuel standards. The twelve states with renewable fuel standards are primarily those with functioning ethanol industries. Only 19 states have growth management, or "smart growth" laws designed to manage transportation and land use in growing suburbs, according to NRDC.

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Breakdown: What Election Results Mean for Alternative Transportation

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Democrats lost big on Tuesday, and it was only a tad better for alternative transportation. The fate of several high speed rail plans around the country are now in question as ...

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Scorecard: What Election 2010 Means for Transportation around the Nation

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Democrats lost big on Tuesday, and it was only a tad better for alternative transportation. The fate of several high speed rail plans around the country are now in question as new governors take over and Republicans take over in Congress with a mandate to cut spending. (See TranportPolitic for more on that.)

From races where transit or transportation became an issue, to marquis ballot measures for new initiatives, here's our scorecard of election 2010 in Transportation Nation:

The race: 8th Congressional District, Minnesota -- Jim Oberstar Loses. The Incumbent Democrat, Chair of House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, loses to Repub. Chip Cravaack by 4,200 votes.

A champion of transportation leaves Congress. Rep. Oberstar has been in office since 1974 and was a strong advocate for transportation spending throughout. Even if he had won, he would have lost his chairmanship of the Transportation Committee when Republicans take control of the House. Still, his loss was unexpected.

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Oberstar Stands Firm on Record in Transportation-Filled Farewell Speech

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Rep. Jim Oberstar (D-Minn.) Chair of the  House Transportation Committee was unseated Tuesday. He has served Minnesota since 1974, an he sure had a lot to say about his transportation tenure. Below is the full audio of his emotional, proud, and of course, transportation-filled farewell speech.

"In the business world when the profits of sales go down, the CEO says, well it was sales, or marketing ... in this arena you look into the mirror and say, it was me. But there is nothing I would take back. "

About 6:25 into his remarks, Oberstar starts to list off all the work he is proud of, and it reads like the list of roads, bridges, tunnels and infrastructure that cover Minnesota.

"I can't change, and I wouldn't change any of the votes I cast this year to bring us out of the worst recession, to chart a course for the future ... I wouldn't change any of the votes I cast to bring forward the stimulus. Because the bridge over Interstate 35 at North Branch will be there long after I leave office, and long after any successor. That's a 100 year bridge. And the bridge at County Road 17 over I-35 ... that will be there long after..."

As for what this transportation legislator will do next, he says he will reflect for a while and look for something "in the public arena."

Download the full audio as broadcast by MPR.

Read more at MPR.

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GM IPO Details Emerge

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) General Motors post-bailout, post-bankruptcy IPO is expected to raise between $8-$13 billion and transform the U.S. government's role from majority owner to minority shareholder.  But the federal government would still be the largest owner.

GM is expected to file a final registration for the IPO on Wednesday, the same day they release quarterly earnings (and are expected to announce they are profitable for the third straight quarter). That's when we'll officially know how much they are trying to raise, as well as the exact share price. Some hints have already leaked out, though, and early reports are that shares will likely be priced at $26 to $29--considerably higher than earlier estimates. And at that price, AP estimates the total company valuation will be around $46 billion, which is similar to Ford.

During the bailout, U.S. taxpayers ponied up $50 billion to save the company and has so far gotten about $10 billion back. GM will use the money from the IPO to pay off debt, not raise operating capital. Initially, GM will only be offering a portion of their shares. The rest will come in subsequent offerings at a higher price, GM and the U.S. Government are hoping.

According to multiple reports, GM executives will now begin meeting with major investors --like foreign-based sovereign wealth funds, including those based in Kuwait and China.

For a breakdown of likely ownership stakes see the Detroit Bureau.

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Transit and Transportation at Stake in Several Key Races

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) We've been closely watching the intersection of transportation and politics on this site.  Here are a few races where transportation may affect the outcome, or where the outcome may affect transportation.

The race: Maryland Governor -- Repub. Bob Ehrlich,  Dem. Martin O’Malley

What's at stake: It's a race of rail vs bus. The two candidates each support extending some form of public transit to the area of Maryland in the Washington D.C. suburbs. O'Malley wants the proposed Purple Line while Erlich prefers a bus plan. Maryland is a deep blue state, so Ehrlich's chances aren't great. But O'Malley isn't hugely popular and this is not a good year for Democrats nationwide, so an upset is always possible and the Purple Line hangs in the balance. (Read more.)

The race: 8th Congressional District, Minnesota -- Incumbent Dem. Jim Oberstar, Chair of House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Repub. Chip Cravaack

What's at stake: Congressional control. Oberstar is currently the Chair of the Congressional transportation committee. He's in charge of the purse strings on countless transportation and infrastructure projects around the nation. He's called for a massive transportation funding package that would be less likely to pass without a champion at the helm of transportation committee. Even if Oberstar holds on in this tighter-than-expected race, he may lose his chairmanship if Republicans take control of the House.   The ranking member of the House Transportation Committee is Republican John Mica of Florida, who, like Oberstar, has been a champion of increased transportation funding and high speed rail.  In fact, Mica and Oberstar have joined to assail the Obama administration for not making transportation spending a higher priority.

"I view this as the most critical jobs bill before Congress ... we're going to do it together, one way or another, come hell or high water," Mica said in 2009 of the transportation bill.  But it's unclear how Mica would hew to this agenda with a much more conservative, less spending-friendly congress. (Read more from MPR)

The race: Ohio Governor -- Incumbent Dem. Ted Strickland, Repub. John Kasich

What's at stake: High speed rail spending. Kasich has proposed repurposing the

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Jersey Barrier Art to Spruce up NYC

Monday, November 01, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The New York City Department of Transportation announced their Jersey Barrier Design Winners Monday.

Jersey barrier art by Jennifer Cecere, Jenny Hung, and Debra Hampton will adorn the ubiquitous eyesores around NYC construction zones with brightly colored patterns and representational designs. The winning entries vary in style from geometric patterns, to bright bird feather hints striped lengthwise, and subtle human forms hidden in complex symmetrical flowing red and white line paintings. See some small samples here.

For a sense of past projects with similar sensibilities, click through this photo set by NY DOT "pARTners". Downtown New York has done this in the past, and we hope they do it more often. It's a smart move to transform the constant construction sites inherent in infrastructure upgrades into a canvas for local expression. It might also earn a little more support for the projects too. Once these jersey barriers are covered in art instead of car soot, people might not dislike them as much. Even a little improvement would be nice.

Check out other efforts to inject art into transportation spaces by the NY DOT laid out in this little pdf they released on how they select sites and art projects.

Image (CC) of unpainted barriers by Flickr user takomabibelot.

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In Maryland, Vote for Governor is Vote Between Rail and Bus Rapid Transit Along Proposed "Purple Line"

Monday, November 01, 2010

(Matt Bush, WAMU) In the DC metro area transit has become a key issue for many voters in the Maryland governor's race. Specifically, candidate support or opposition for a proposed extension of DC area Metro known as the Purple Line is likely to decide the votes of many in the DC suburbs.

Republican former Gov. Bob Ehrlich wants the Purple Line to be rapid buses, saying it is cheaper and more likely to receive federal funding. Incumbent Democrat Gov. Martin O'Malley wants light rail, saying, among other reasons, it is more attractive to potential businesses looking to locate in the D.C. suburbs.

That stance helped O'Malley receive the endorsement of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. "We're at capacity on certain lines already on Metrorail. When you look at buses, they fill up pretty quickly, they don't move as many people, and they don't move them as fast," says Jim Dinegar, the board's president.

A Maryland Transit Administration study also termed light rail better for the environment. But the World Resources Institute in D.C. did its own study, which says rapid buses are better. The institute's Greg Fuhs says they produce fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

"The primary reason being the energy source for light rail, the region covered by the Purple Line system, is heavily coal dependent," Fuhs says.

Fuhs adds many buses now run on cleaner fuels than gas and get better gas mileage. Either way, depending on what plan they support, local residents are heading to the polls knowing the man who wins the governor's race will decide between rail or bus. And that's worth voting on.

Proposed Purple Line Map

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Minnesota Gov Candidates Agree: More Buses, No Gas Tax, But Disagree on How to Get It Done

Monday, November 01, 2010

(St. Paul, Minn --Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio) The candidates vying to replace Minnesota governor, and potential Presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty, appear to agree on major transportation issues: They all oppose a gas tax increase, they favor more borrowing and they support bus transit. But dig a little deeper and the three diverge on the details of all those issues. (Listen to this story at MPR.)

Republican Tom Emmer, Independence Party candidate Tom Horner and Democrat Mark Dayton all agree this is not the time to raise Minnesota's gasoline tax.

Beyond that however, Emmer sounds a familiar campaign theme. He says money for transportation will come as the state does more to encourage business growth. "That's the way you solve it, you don't keep raising the tax and driving away the business, let's grow the business so we collect more of the revenue," Emmer said.

State transportation officials estimate Minnesota is short about a billion dollars or more a year in keeping up with road and bridge needs. That puts a spotlight on another major revenue source, borrowing.

The Pawlenty administration has relied heavily on borrowing to fund road and bridge projects. The three gubernatorial candidates agree borrowing is an important revenue source.

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Snapshots of the American Commute

Friday, October 29, 2010

Our partner The Takeaway asked for your snapshots and sounds from your daily commute. They got some striking photos, some cluttered traffic and a healthy dose of personality.

See the full slideshow here.

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Nissan Recalling Two Million Vehicles

Thursday, October 28, 2010

(Jerome Vaughn, WDET—Detroit) Nissan is recalling more than two million vehicles worldwide for an issue that could lead to engines stalling.  The recall affects more than a dozen models from the 2003 through 2006 model years, including selected Nissan Xterra sport utility vehicles, Titan pickup trucks, and Infinity QX56 SUVs.

About 750,000 of the vehicles were produced in the US.  Others were manufactured in Japan and Europe. A faulty electrical relay for the engine control module could cause the engine to stall.
Nissan says no accidents have been reported in connection with the issue.Dealers will make repairs at no cost to consumers.  Affected owners will be notified by mail.

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GM to Expand Production, Pay Back More of Bailout Money

Thursday, October 28, 2010

(From WDET—Detroit, and Transportation Nation) General Motors will build a new small Cadillac at its Lansing Grand River plant.  It will be built on the same platform as the Cadillac CTS, which was named Motor Trend’s car of the year in 2008.

Motor Trend Detroit Editor Todd Lassa says the new ATS will be designed to compete with the best small luxury cars like the Mercedes-Benz C- Class and the B-M-W 3 series. “The Cadillac ATS, I think, will do well against the Mercedes C-Class.  The BMW 3 series is the car everyone wishes they could build.  Cadillac wishes it could build that," he says.

GM CEO Dan Akerson tells WDET his company will invest $190 million in the Grand River plant to make the ATS.  That will mean the addition of a second shift, creating 600 jobs.  The car is set to launch in 2012.

Bailout Payback

In other GM news, the Department of the Treasury announced they have approved the buyback of $2.1 billion in preferred stock from GM. This brings the total repayment of government bailout money up to $9.5 billion of the $49.5 billion total.

Here's the official announcement from GM and from Treasury. They are only slightly different in what they highlight.

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Lautenberg Launching ARC Tunnel Investigation

Thursday, October 28, 2010

This press release just out from the office of Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), who is steaming mad about the cancellation of the ARC tunnel.

Here's the press release.

NEWARK – U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) today announced that he has launched an investigation into the cancellation of the nation’s largest infrastructure project.  The investigation seeks to determine the circumstances, actions and motivations that led to the largest loss of Federal transportation resources in New Jersey history.  Following a preliminary report that will be released before the end of this year, a final report will be delivered to the public within six months that will catalog all details and include recommendations to prevent such a loss of Federal revenue in the future.
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Billions for Rail Means an Election Opportunity

Thursday, October 28, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The U.S. Department of Transportation announced $2.4 billion in federal grants for high-speed rail projects around the country. The bulk of the the money, a combined $1.7 billion, is going to Florida and California for ambitious intercity rail projects that have already received $3.5 billion in federal grants as well as local bond money. Here's the complete list of grants.

Today's announcements are for FY2010 yearly allocation the the Federal Railway Administration's High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program, as approved by Congress. It is not stimulus money, which amounts to another pool of approximately $8 billion dedicated to HSR. These announcements come just five days before election day and some elected officials are using the occasion to prove they can bring home the bacon. Thursday morning, our partner The Takeaway covered how America's diminishing appetite for infrastructure is playing out politically. But local politicians sure seemed happy to tout the millions headed to their districts. Here's how the announcements—leaked on Monday in most cases—are being discussed and celebrated by political officials around the country, just part of our regular coverage of the intersection of transportation and politics.

In Iowa—The official announcement - Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood makes the official announcement at 1:30 p.m. EST (full audio here) at the Iowa City Rail Depot. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Iowa Governor Chet Culver and U.S. Representative Dave Loebsack all joined LaHood as he called the full package "historic" and touted the job-creating power of rail construction. They also held a local event touting plans to connect Iowa City and Chicago.

In Michigan— on Wednesday, Democratic politicians made some hay of the $161 million their state is getting to connect Detroit with Chicago. Senator Carl Levin, Congressman Mark Shauer and other local leaders all turned out. It just so happens the event took place in Jackson, MI, a congressional district up for grabs on Tuesday.  U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation John Porcari discussing the Michigan grant with WDET.

In CaliforniaA second official announcement
Federal Railroad Administration head, Joe Szabo, made his own announcement in Fresno, Cali. to a supportive audience at a local high speed rail conference. California got the largest share of the grants in this round. Of the $901 million, $715 million will go to the San Joaquin valley, and $16 million to connect San Fransisco with San Jose. Something Rep. Jim Costa is pleased to hear, and share. “Our years of hard work have paid off and the Valley will kick off construction of our nation’s first high-speed rail system,” he said. He also reminded constituents he was the author of the $9.95 billion bond measure that is funding the mega-project to connect LA and San Fransisco. The fate of this project could hinge on the outcome of the governor's election Tuesday.

In Florida—$800 million isn't enough. Republican candidate for governor Rick Scott says the feds should pay even more. They've already given $1.25 billion to connect Tampa and Orlando, but Scott says Washington should pay 100 percent of the cost, of the $2.6 billion project. Then there's this from "The announcement comes just days before Hillsborough County voters decide on a 1-cent sales tax increase for transportation, of which about 43 percent would go toward light rail. Supporters say local light rail is necessary to the success of high-speed rail." Just a little something.

In Virginia—$45.4 million in grants will go to the first steps of planning for a Richmond to D.C. line. This would eventually connect to the Boston-Washington Northeast corridor, and Senator Jim Webb likes it.  “I worked with Virginia officials to secure these funds because high-speed passenger rail promises significant economic benefits for Richmond and the Commonwealth,” Webb wrote in a press release. “These funds will spur job creation and economic growth, while reducing traffic on our highways in a cost effective way.” Neither Senator in Va. is up for re-election this year.

In NY—$1.5 million goes to the Empire Corridor rail project in Western, NY. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) is quite pleased. Her area pulled in just one of the smallest allocations, but look how she spreads the news. She's also in no danger of being unseated on Tuesday, just giddy for rail maybe.

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TRANSCRIPT: Senator Lautenberg Reacts to Gov. Christie on ARC Tunnel

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Here's the full statement from NJ Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) on the decision to kill the ARC tunnel by NJ Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) earlier Wednesday.

We've also posted video of the full speech from Christie, and the reaction from Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood.



NEWARK – Today, U.S. Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) issued the following statement in response to Governor Chris Christie’s decision to kill the critical Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) Tunnel project:

“The Governor was given a deal from the federal government on Sunday that put no extra imposition on the state of New Jersey for its obligation to the ARC Tunnel project, and the Governor refused it.  It was clear from the beginning that Governor Christie planned to kill the ARC Tunnel no matter what.  In doing so, the Governor has once again put politics over performance.

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VIDEO: Christie Speech Killing ARC Tunnel

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Here's the video and full transcript of NJ Governor Chris Christie's speech announcing his decision to kill the ARC Tunnel for a second, and final, time.

(Part 1)

(Part 2)
Full Transcript after the jump from the Governor's office.
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Feds Foil DC Metro Bomb Plot in Planning Phase

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Federal officials indicted a naturalized American citizen on charges that he was plotting a series of attacks on DC area Metro stations. He was arrested after meeting with men he thought were part of Al-Qaeda about the plan.

Authorities stress the plot was in the very early stages, the public was never in any danger, they say.

The Washington Post has more.

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